Saturday, June 29, 2013

It's hot, hot, hot!

Well, it has been a quite a few days since the last blog post... Yes, I've been pinning to exhaustion on Pinterest. I don't think I even have any interests anymore! The weather has continued HOT & HUMID, high 90's (36C). I am not inspired to sweat in the garden, since I sweat buckets on my non-air-conditioned work shift. Current riveting indoor activities have included knitting a bit on a new cowl, munching on nachos, reading and vacuuming the area rugs of dog hair. I got really wild and did some workout exercises on the yoga mat, all the while dodging doggie kisses, cuz they love it when I get on their level.
Last evening, we got a blast of cool, as the temps dropped to the high seventies, & it feels wonderful! This freaky coolness has continued today with a sun shower included, so the garden got a double watering. I spotted a newcomer to the mailbox garden early this afternoon; a lovely Swallowtail butterfly discovered the Echinacea flowers. Little did I know then, the sun would be a gone for the day an hour later as we have had a sudden thunderstorm with lots of pea sized hail! We are really chillin" now with air temps at 70F (21C).

Echinacea is a wonderful perennial if used sparingly throughout the garden. It got hugely popular a few years ago and was planted in everyone's landscape. I initially fell for the big swath of pink echinacea plantings but then had a problem with a phytoplasm disease, transmitted by the leafhopper insect. This disease essentially causes the echinacea flower to turn a lime green and develop lots of mini green florets all over the bloom (it is actually a fascinating fractal composition to look at).  Unfortunately, the only cure is to remove and destroy infected plants, then spray the unaffected echinacea with insecticidal soap. It has taken a couple years of dividing uninfected survivors and moving them around the yard to limit the spread; I think leafhoppers can only jump so far. Anyway, I have found I like the look of echinacea better in isolated clumps throughout the garden and the butterflies have more of a challenge to find their nectar. Yep, we are building butterfly brain here and encouraging survival of the fittest!

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